The introduction of fibre optic cable for internet is what put the speed into true high speed internet. Quite simply fibre optics transmits data using light and it is capable of transmitting incredibly large amounts of data very fast. An optic light connection can move in excess of 10GB of data 5000 miles in less than a second with no degradation of signal. That is the equivalent of transferring the entire contents of your hard drive to a computer half way around the world in less than a minute.
While incredibly impressive, you cannot actually do that. Your hard drive cannot move that fast nor can your processor keep up with that rate of data transfer. This has led many to presume that fibre optic internet, while good for trunk lines as an internet infrastructure, serves no real purpose in the home or business network set-up. Some would equate it to having a Formula One race car for your commute to work – it looks and sounds impressive but you will not get there any faster.
The actual key to the puzzle is not the speed and distance of the transfer however. What gives it practical purpose in home and business applications is the second part- ‘no degradation of signal’. To understand this better consider how typical Ethernet cable works.
An Ethernet cable is typically copper wire based. Standard cabling is rated as 10/100 or able to carry 100 mbps. In actual use this is almost never the case. Because it is copper wire carrying electricity to transfer data it is subject to all the rules of physics that apply to electricity. The important ones for our purpose is resistance and noise.
Resistance and Noise
Resistance is caused by the fact that copper wire is a good conductor of electricity – not a perfect one. In your computer or even stereo system they likely use gold or platinum connectors as an example because they conduct electricity better. These are not practical in any way for standard wiring due to expense. The resistance in copper makes a percentage of the electricity be drained off in energy to ‘push’ the signal. In doing this it degrades the amount of electricity available to carry data and generates heat as a by-product meaning pushing past certain tolerances is dangerous as a fire hazard.
All electrical impulses create a magnetic field. If you have ever seen an electrician looking for wire routing in a wall they often use a small handheld device that can locate this field and trace the wires even inside the wall. Wherever these fields cross it causes noise – disruptions in the flow of electricity. These disruptions cause the data to degrade requiring correction at the end (your computer) to make them ‘whole’ again. Every computer cable and electric line in your home or business does this so when you look and see a half dozen cables tied together know there is going to be noise and interference reducing speed and clarity.
Fibre optic suffers neither of these problems. It can be run directly beside electric wires or other data cables with no noise or interference. It has nearly immeasurably small resistance and generates no heat so it requires no additional insulation or boosters to maintain signal strength. While it clearly moves more data than your network will require it also does not leave your network waiting for data and more importantly does not use your processor resources to sort out corrupted data. You can buy Fibre Optic Cable & Data Products from MCL Data Solutions if you want to get the most from your network.